Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker
Being Bold: Building Budgets
  for Children’s Wellbeing
              Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker

   Commissioned by Children in Scotland, Cattanach and the Carnegie UK Trust
Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker
                                        This report is the product of a team effort. The commissioners –Jackie Brock,
                                        Sophie Flemig and Jennifer Wallace –greatly helped to steer it along the way with
This work is licensed under
                                        their thoughts, suggestions and input. Amy Baker has been a brilliant co-pilot,
the Creative Commons
                                        always ready to respond if the need arose, carrying out the bulk of the research into
Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
                                        the policy terrain and being my first port of call when I needed a second pair of eyes
                                        to look over something.

                                        Many others gave their time and input –either by being interviewed, by sharing
                                        reflections on the interim report and early findings, or reviewing the almost-final
                                        draft. The report does not necessarily reflect their views and any mistakes are
                                        entirely due to an error on my part. These individuals include Bruce Adamson,
                                        Sarah Arnold, Lucy Blackburn, Maree Brown, Paul Cairney, Kristie Carter, Chris
                                        Chapman, Emma Congreve, Christine Cooper, Sara Cowan, John Dickie, Alison
Children in Scotland
                                        Drever, Wendy Ellyatt, Carrie Exton, Aiden Flegg, Eddie Folan, Stuart Hall, Juliet
Level 1, Rosebery House
                                        Harris, Leire Iriarte, Julia Kim, Kevin Lowden, Rhona Matheson, Gerry McCartney,
9 Haymarket Terrace
                                        Fraser McKinley, Rebekah Menzies, James Mitchell, Scherie Nicol, Tim Ng, Angela
                                        O’Hagan, Satwat Rehman, Graeme Roy, Eleanor Ryan, Caroline Slocock, Claire
EH12 5EZ
                                        Stuart, Claire Telfer and Morag Treanor.

                                        This list does not include the names of Scottish Government employees with whom
                                        I had very insightful and open conversations. I am grateful for their interest in this
                                        project and their thoughtful responses to my questions.


ISBN 9781912908615
                              90000 >

9 781912 908615                                                                                           Designed by Gecko

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker
CONTENTS                                                            57 Being bolder: fundamentals of a wellbeing budget for children
                                                                           59 Holistic and human
                                                                           59 Outcomes-orientated
     Foreward by Children in Scotland,
4    Cattanach and the Carnegie UK Trust
                                                                           60 Rights-based
                                                                           61 Long-term and upstream
                                                                           61 Preventative
 5   Executive Summary                                                     62 Precautionary
                                                                           62 Participatory

9    Introduction
                                                                    63 Practical changes necessitated by these fundamentals
 11 Methodology and limits                                                 65 New conversations: around and within the budget process
                                                                           67 Goal and vision statement
                                                                           68 Budget mechanisms

12   Creating ideal conditions for early years development                 70 Money out: shifts in approaches to spending
     13 The goal (understanding wellbeing)                                 71 Money in: resourcing the investment
     14 Wellbeing and human rights                                         73 Directorate changes
                                                                           75 Leadership and support

15   Current context
     16 Children in Scotland today                                  76 Wider changes needed
     18 Legislative context
     29 The importance of getting it right early on
     35 The best country to grow up in: what does it really mean?
                                                                    78 Further research

39   Bolder budgets                                                 79 Conclusion: a challenging call
     41 Doing the Scottish budget better
     49 Current budget process                                       81 List of references

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker
In so many ways, Scotland is a wonderful place to grow up. In a global context we        In this, the three organisations that instigated this work do not consider
have free education and health care, access to an environment noted around the           themselves to be experts. We have been learning as we go, guided by Dr Trebeck
world for its beauty, and a society that largely supports young girls to achieve their   and supported by Amy Baker, to try to unpick a system that often appears to be a
potential. It would be wrong not to acknowledge these truths. But we also know           black box to those on the outside trying to understand what happens and why, and
that we have to do much better. It has been over 20 years since devolution, 14 years     where, as Dr Trebeck notes, documentation is either sparse or voluminous. We are
since we instigated a wellbeing framework (the National Performance Framework)           not arguing here that there is any systematic attempt to obfuscate, but rather that
and 10 years since there was a resetting of the approach to public services (the         the budget process does not expect to be opened up to those outside the Financial
Christie Commission). And yet, too many children are left behind, their lives already    Strategy Directorate, and so there has been no need to consider the accessibility of
a struggle before they reach school. The inequalities in our society – be they           the documentation. This needs to change.
poverty, gender, violence, hopelessness, racism, disablism and so many more –
land at their feet and affect their lives before they can walk.                          Our first conversations on this project began long before COVID-19, but the events
                                                                                         of the last year have convinced us that this work is required more than ever. Over
The central premise of this project is that we cannot begin to improve wellbeing         the course of the next few years, as we emerge from the emergency and into the
across society (the stated aim of the Scottish Government) unless we begin with          recovery, governments will have to make difficult choices between policies and
our youngest children and create the conditions for them to flourish from the            programmes. Our hope is that these decisions will be guided by the principles that
outset. To do this, we need to change how we think about ‘investment’: as                Dr Trebeck has identified and by the immutable logic of human progress: that we
processes that allow us to assess the impact of government spend on all aspects of       wish to leave our children with a world a little better than we found it.
our collective wellbeing. This is complicated work, made more so by a lack of
transparency in government approaches to budget setting. We cannot make best             Jackie Brock, Sophie Flemig and Jen Wallace
use of the expertise we have (both lived and professional) if we do not open the
process up to greater involvement, scrutiny, and debate.

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker

As Scotland takes stock of the damage the COVID-19 pandemic has done to                 that seek to ameliorate the damage and forgone revenue: from healthcare (both
individuals, families, communities, businesses and the macroeconomy, more and           mental and physical health) to additional needs provision, from reduced tax
more people are recognising the need to do better than simply reviving pre-COVID        revenue to higher welfare spending (both administration and provision) and from
ways of working. The causes of Scotland’s problems that predate COVID-19 have           higher criminal justice costs to greater demand for emergency services. The
not disappeared and need to be attended to as Scotland builds its recovery.             possibility of reduced demand on state resources means the question should move
                                                                                        from ‘can the government afford to do this?’ to ‘can it afford not to?’
Even prior to COVID-19, children’s wellbeing was not as it should be in Scotland. A
quarter of Scotland’s children are in relative poverty1 and households with children    Governments need to act on two levels: equipping people to prosper and removing
under six years of age account for almost two-thirds of children experiencing           the need to intervene by attending to underlying causes. Scotland’s ambition is to
relative poverty.2 Child poverty and inequality overlap strongly with the age, sex,     be the best country in which to grow up. This requires us to look at the
ethnicity and disability characteristics of the wider household. People who             circumstances in which children are growing up and ask questions such as: how are
experience racism are more likely to experience poverty. COVID-19 is exacerbating       parents and carers faring? Are homes adequate? Are communities safe? Are labour
these existing inequalities.                                                            markets offering decent work? Are incomes sufficient? Are people listened to and
                                                                                        do they have networks to turn to? What are the nature and impact of vertical and
One element of building a more just and sustainable economy and society is taking       horizontal inequalities?
a bold and ambitious wellbeing approach to policymaking and associated
government budgets. In budgeting for outcomes, goals are achieved not just by           As part of their response to such questions, governments around the world are
patching up and intervening early, but also by stopping harm occurring in the first     experimenting with constructing budget processes in ways that enhance wellbeing.
place by creating a context in which children and families flourish.                    Scotland needs to learn from these experiments, but must also build on where it
                                                                                        currently stands. However, its efforts today are not sequenced smartly; there is not
Ensuring children’s wellbeing and human rights in their early years is crucial in its   enough coherence in the various mechanisms shaping the budget; the process is
own right and for subsequent life outcomes, but it also matters from a fiscal           not easy to understand or influence; actions are not sufficiently joined up and
perspective. By allowing harm to occur (through our collective failure to enable        sometimes remain trapped within a service mindset; and policy (and the budgets
children’s wellbeing and protect their rights) society also incurs costs (monetary      underlying it) is not doing enough to tackle root causes.
and non-monetary). These are multifaceted and manifest in the form of services

1                                                                                       2               ‘Child poverty by whether there are under 5 year olds or under 6 year olds in the
                                                                                        household’, available at

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker
Being bolder
A wellbeing budget needs to be:

• Holistic and human: focus on the relationships that support children. This whole-system approach
  encompasses support across the suite of factors that shape families’ scope to thrive. This means targeting
  risk factors that society is responsible for, rather than simply targeting individuals.

• Outcomes-orientated: focus on and accountability for end results (often at a societal scale) rather than
  services or spending.

• Rights-based: the goals of a budget should be to uphold and realise human rights, including those of
  women and children, and to do so in an accountable, transparent and participatory manner.

• Long-term and upstream: policymakers should take decisions ‘as if they mean to stay’, rather than
  confining themselves to projects within one parliamentary term.

• Preventative: preventing harm by offering support as early as possible and working towards long-term
  solutions. Prevention (and indeed a multidimensional wellbeing approach) is also about considering
  present and future generations of children around the world. The fiscal budget needs to operate within a
  science-based carbon budget that limits overconsumption of the earth’s resources.

• Precautionary: the evidence base for supporting children in their earliest years and the extent to which
  this generates long-term benefits is sufficiently sound to be acted upon, even if the evidence is not specific
  enough to precisely attribute these benefits to a single action.

• Participatory: children and their families need to be involved across the entire budget process via a
  creative, inclusive mix of methods that welcomes the experiences and ideas of children and families.
  Particular effort needs to be made to elevate the voices of those who are often marginalised.

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker
These points reinforce many of the ideas called for by groups such as (but not          • Much recurrent spending can contribute to wellbeing and should be subject to
limited to) the NACWG, EBAG, SWBG, SHRC, Scotland’s International Development             the Outcomes Forecasts in order to ensure a whole-of-government effort in
Alliance, Oxfam Scotland and the David Hume Institute. That there is strong               creating a context in which children’s rights are met and they and their families
commonality in the actions such groups are calling for should leave policymakers in       thrive.
no doubt about the necessity of such changes.
                                                                                        • Policy ideas (and associated spending bids) should be assessed according to the
Translating some of the fundamentals set out above into the                               robustness of the case they make for supporting children’s wellbeing. Business
Scottish budget requires:                                                                 cases need to give way to wellbeing investment cases. Spending guidance, such
                                                                                          as the Public Finance Manual, needs to be recast accordingly.
• New conversations to build support for more efforts to tackle the root causes that
  harm children’s wellbeing and to help shift debates so that the political realities   • The wellbeing criteria encapsulated in the NPF and child poverty targets should
  that influence government budgets are more conducive to the upstream,                   also apply to government procurement.
  outcome-focused approach necessary to enhance children’s wellbeing.
                                                                                        • Due to its preventative credentials, the option of positioning investment in
• New conversations within the budget process so that children’s voices are heard         children’s wellbeing as more akin to capital spend needs to be explored.
  and their views acted on throughout the budget cycle. A start could be the
  Cabinet Secretary for Finance and relevant policy teams holding at least two          • New, ring-fenced resources will be needed to bridge the transition and enable a
  meetings with children’s groups as part of the budget process.                          steady and incremental migration of funding towards more preventative
                                                                                          investment. The Promise Fund might constitute one source of such additional
• Budget processes need to align more closely with both the National Performance          resources at a small scale, as might Scottish National Investment Bank
  Framework and child poverty targets: the goal of the budget should be to                investments. Efficiency gains could also be dedicated to resourcing such
  resource policies that seek to deliver on the NPF outcomes and the targets in the       investments and any comprehensive spending review undertaken in the coming
  Child Poverty Act.                                                                      years used to augment them.

• NPF outcomes should be used as a (retrospective) wellbeing map that shows             • Scotland should not shy away from levying higher taxes to reduce high levels of
  distributional analysis and cumulative impact: the ‘Wellbeing Distribution Map’.        economic inequality at the top end and secure sources of funding. A
                                                                                          hypothecated small charge on the highest earners, on sources of wealth (such as
• Based on the NPF and child poverty targets, forward-looking ‘Outcomes                   land and inheritance) or on firms that profit from failure demand would be a
  Forecasts’ should be undertaken to assess the extent to which policies and the          good investment in Scotland’s children. The council tax system has long been
  proposed budgets to support them will create a context which enables children           seen as a tax instrument due for an overhaul, which could rebalance the
  and families to thrive. Budgets should be adjusted accordingly.                         incidence of tax towards higher earners and bring in more revenue.

• Annual budgets need to be recast as steps towards longer-term goals. By               • Substantial and ongoing training and capacity building for civil servants will be
  reference to the Wellbeing Distributional Map (which looks backwards) and the           needed; new guidance, heuristics and a common language must be developed;
  Outcomes Forecasts (which look forward), annual budgets will be scrutinised             and supportive tools rolled out and resourced.
  regarding the extent to which they advance the NPF and deliver on the child
  poverty targets over multiyear horizons.

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker
• Collaboration and sharing of information and resources needs to be encouraged
  and rewarded: internal targets and incentives need to be aligned with the NPF,
  child poverty targets and the analysis of the Outcomes Forecasts. Allowing
  departments to pool budgets and have the assurance that pooled budgets will
  be protected over time – even given some additionality – will also likely spur
  collaboration. An Outcomes Challenge linked to several NPF outcomes and
  focusing on children should be created, with civil servants rewarded for their
  evidence-based ideas.

• A politically neutral dedicated office or officer (supported by a delivery team) is
  recommended. This would effectively be a commissioner for the wellbeing of
  current and future generations. The office/officer must have sufficient
  independence to be a critical friend and to monitor progress, but be close
  enough to government teams to have an ongoing and recognised role in budget
  formulation, including the preparation of the Outcomes Forecasts.

Beyond the budget itself, to undo the fundamental causes of inequalities and other
long-term systemic challenges that undermine the conditions necessary for
children to thrive requires addressing imbalances of power and better
predistributing money and wealth. The conversation about making Scotland the
best place to grow up is about more than outcomes-based budgeting: it is about
systems-change governing.

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children's Wellbeing - Dr Katherine Trebeck with Amy Baker
                                                                                         Budgets are moral documents
                                                                                           with numbers attached.3

As Scotland takes stock of the damage the COVID-19 pandemic has done to                     It has long been acknowledged that prevention is better than a cure. There have
individuals, families, communities, businesses and the macroeconomy, more and               been research reports and committee inquiries with cross-party political support
more people are recognising that Scotland needs to do better than seeking to                into what prevention means. Consequently, Scotland has made a good start over
revive the ways of working of pre-COVID times. The causes of Scotland’s problems            the last decade or so, and thus has some strong foundations on which to build. This
that predate COVID-19 have not disappeared and need to be attended to as                    report sets out some ideas for where it can go further in the space of the budget
Scotland builds its recovery.                                                               process. In the context of a pandemic where acute need is profound, it points
                                                                                            to areas where the time has come to stop playing ‘whack a mole’ and instead
One element of building a more just and sustainable economy and society, rather             turn off the machine that is driving so much damage: inequality, poverty and
than returning to business as usual, is taking a bold and ambitious wellbeing               injustice. In budgeting for outcomes, goals are achieved not just by patching up
approach to policymaking and associated government budgets. This report seeks               and intervening early, but also by stopping harm occurring in the first place by
to contribute to the debate about how the Scottish Government budget is                     creating a context in which children and families flourish.
conceived, crafted and deployed in order to improve the wellbeing and rights of
Scotland’s children. It straddles several sets of issues: policies to address child         This report is not the first word on this topic and it has no designs on being the final
poverty, efforts to improve child wellbeing, the implications (both human and               word either. It is not a policy manifesto nor a root-and-branch audit of all that the
fiscal) of getting it wrong and budget mechanisms as a juncture where change can            Scottish Government does in relation to children’s wellbeing. And nor does it seek
be leveraged.                                                                               to be every word on the subject – no attempt is made to cover everything that is
                                                                                            pertinent to children’s wellbeing, now or in the future.
The report concentrates on the first few years of a child’s life: getting things right
here will mean things go well elsewhere. At the same time, the experience of a
child’s early years is shaped by a plethora of different factors and dynamics. This
focus thus also constitutes a lens to look at the wider economy and how it is
shaped by the policymaking process. Early years are a fulcrum age that often
mirrors other societal needs and vice versa.
                                                                                                This quote has been attributed to both Martin Luther King Jr and Jim Wallis.

Instead, it offers an overview of some of the salient issues and proposals for             The focus then shifts to the budget itself, asking what other countries are doing
tackling them. As the brief for this report states, the aim is to ‘support a potentially   that Scotland can learn from and what is currently happening here that can be built
transformational ambition for a children’s wellbeing budget’. The project aims to          upon. The report then draws together its findings on what is fundamental to a
build on the current thinking on early years, prevention, human rights, poverty, and       wellbeing budget: that it be holistic and human; outcomes-orientated; long-term
wellbeing, and then explore how the Scottish Government budget process could do            and upstream; preventative; precautionary; and participatory. Practical changes
more to shape positive outcomes. While a plethora of frameworks are in place in            that need to be made in order to uphold these fundamentals in the Scottish budget
Scotland, what is needed is to more robustly link policy and budgets to these              are then set out, with the final elements of the report reflecting on action that
frameworks and to assess progress accordingly.                                             needs to be taken beyond the budget process, areas for further research, and some
                                                                                           of the challenges this agenda faces.
The discussion begins with a reflection on the methodology used and limits to the
report’s scope and depth. This is followed by an exploration of the report’s aim:          This report is being published at a time when hopes for an end to the current
namely, to identify how we might conceptualise children’s wellbeing (including its         pandemic are growing. There will be a Holyrood election in a few months’ time.
relationship to human rights) and the importance of early years and prevention.            A newly elected government would need to take on board the suggestions
The report then considers the current status of children’s wellbeing in Scotland and       presented here in order to make good on the ambition for Scotland to be the best
some of the relevant policies, before turning to what needs to be changed in order         country to grow up in.
to enhance children’s wellbeing in Scotland – the wider socio-economic context
that impinges on wellbeing outcomes; the need for family support; and the
implications for government.


The content of this report builds on the work of many other researchers and       This report is not an academic review nor a detailed analysis. It was beyond the
practitioners. Their analyses and ideas have been distilled via a small-scale     project scope to speak to everyone who would have had a useful and valuable
research exercise that included:                                                  perspective (particularly key actors close to the budget process) and to review
                                                                                  every relevant piece of literature.4
• Desk research
                                                                                  It is also limited in focus: for example, it does not cover local government or
• Over 30 interviews                                                              consider the impact that actions and decisions in Scotland have on the wellbeing
                                                                                  of children around the world.5 Given its limited scope and resources, it is hoped this
• One online workshop with over 200 people from the children’s sector to          report will be a precursor to a wider inquiry and a more comprehensive review that
  sense-check and add to the recommendations                                      can delve deeper and examine current practice and necessary changes more
• Feedback on the interim report, which was invaluable and for which we are
  very grateful                                                                   Writing was also finalised before the 2021–22 budget was launched. It was thus not
                                                                                  possible to reflect on or incorporate the announcements from the budget in any
• Two webinars with a small set of stakeholders – one prior to the interim
                                                                                  detail. It is important to note that the 2021–22 budget represents a step in the right
  report being published and one just before the completion of the final report
                                                                                  direction in terms of some of the areas for improvement in the budget process
                                                                                  flagged up below. It is hoped this report underscores the importance of those
• Input from subject area expert reviewers.
                                                                                  changes and lays out where more change needs to be explored.

                                                                                      A list of materials consulted (beyond those directly cited) is provided at the end of the report.

                                                                                   We recommend the work of Scotland’s International Development Alliance:

CREATING IDEAL                                                                                        A revolutionary moment in the world's history
                                                                                                         is a time for revolutions, not for patching
CONDITIONS FOR EARLY                                                                                                – William Beveridge, 1942


The problem (part I)

Children's wellbeing          Children's wellbeing is      Children's rights and       We know that early                     The problem is not
means their ability to live   multidimensional,            children's wellbeing        development has a
                                                                                                                              (just) the amount of
their lives loved and         intersectional and           are inherently              significant effect on a
respected and equipped        affected by their family's   connected and               child's lifelong outcomes              money we spend, but
to fulfil their potential     wellbeing                    mutually reinforcing        - this is indisputable                 how we agree on
                                                                                                                              what to prioritise and
Children's wellbeing is not   Policy making, and           The protection of human     Despite acknowledging                  what we spend it on;
improving enough, despite     budget setting, is too       rights is a fundamental     this in policy, allocating             to improve children's
a plethora of policies and    often done in silos          basis for wellbeing, from   spending to prevention is
                                                                                                                              wellbeing we need to
programmes                                                 which base progressive      notoriously difficult in a
                                                           realisation of wellbeing    system set up to assess                make better
                                                           can be achieved.            narrow costs and benefits              decisions

This section looks at objectives. What is wellbeing? Is it the same as rights and, if    As discussed further below, children are impacted by the wellbeing of their families,
not, how do they complement each other? It then considers the current context –          parents and carers. But this impact is not always linear, since, for example, families
how are children faring and what efforts are underway to support them and their          often shield their children by going without themselves in order to meet their
families? – and explores why early years matter, both in and of themselves, but also     children’s material needs. Yet there is ample evidence of the extent to which
in terms of implications for later life and the public purse. This raises the question   poverty constrains the resources families have to nurture their children – for
of what prevention really means. The following sections then turn to the budget,         example, limiting participation and activities (thereby increasing the likelihood of
which is one of the most important levers for meeting these objectives.                  social isolation), reducing access to adequate shelter, warmth and food, and
                                                                                         adding to parental stress, which can hamper support for children. As seen below,
The goal (understanding wellbeing)6                                                      this link between various dimensions of wellbeing and income means that a
                                                                                         wellbeing budget for children needs to deliver improvements in the financial
Wellbeing is a broad term, encompassing differing uses and conceptions7 that
                                                                                         circumstances of families experiencing poverty as a necessary, but not sufficient,
potentially lead to differing policy emphases. This project understands wellbeing in
                                                                                         criterion for success.
a way that goes beyond measures of wellbeing that simply focus on how an
individual feels at a certain moment in time.8 It also goes beyond seeing wellbeing
as health (although the overlaps are considerable). Children’s wellbeing means our       6
                                                                                          A note on ‘wellbeing’ vs ‘well-being’: when quoting directly from a third-party source that uses a
children growing up feeling loved and respected, and being equipped to realise           hyphen, it will be retained, but otherwise ‘wellbeing’ is preferred.
their full potential. This requires attention to the multiple dimensions of societal     7
                                                                                          See, for example,
wellbeing and their distribution (quality of life, material conditions and               CHWB.5.21.14-Final.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
sustainability) that relate to children’s flourishing.9                                  8
                                                                                             See, for example,

The multidimensional nature of wellbeing means it cannot be approached in a              9
compartmentalised way: it is important to recognise the complexity and
interaction of factors that influence wellbeing. The updated Scottish National             SHANARRI stands for ‘Safe: Protected from abuse, neglect or harm at home, at school and in the
                                                                                         community. Healthy: Having the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health, access
Performance Framework (see below) helpfully identifies dimensions to focus on,           to suitable healthcare, and support in learning to make healthy, safe choices. Achieving: Being
and thus flags up the outcomes towards which any changes to the budget should            supported and guided in learning and in the development of skills, confidence and self-esteem, at
                                                                                         home, in school and in the community. Nurtured: Having a nurturing place to live in a family
be directed: a healthy start in life; physical and social development; high-             setting, with additional help if needed, or where not possible, in a suitable care setting. Active:
quality children’s services; wellbeing and happiness; positive relationships;            Having opportunities to take part in activities such as play, recreation and sport, which contribute
and material deprivation. The Getting It Right for Every Child strategy also makes       to healthy growth and development, at home, in school and in the community. Respected: Having
                                                                                         the opportunity, along with parents and carers, to be heard and involved in decisions that affect
reference to the ‘SHANARRI’ outcomes, which are described as wellbeing                   them. Responsible: Having opportunities and encouragement to play active and responsible roles
indicators: Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and       at home, in school and in the community, and where necessary, having appropriate guidance and
                                                                                         supervision, and being involved in decisions that affect them. Included: Having help to overcome
Included.10 Some of these indicators augment UNICEF’s wellbeing dimensions,              social, educational, physical and economic inequalities, and being accepted as part of the
which place more emphasis on the foundations of flourishing: material wellbeing;         community in which they live and learn.’ (
health and safety; education; behaviours and risks; and housing and                      indicators-shanarri/) See also

Wellbeing and human rights
Although they have been conceived in many and                                      Wellbeing should not be seen as an alternative nor
various ways, associated with different purposes and                               substitute for rights, but as a complementary
schools of thought,12 the rights of children are                                   framework which reinforces rights approaches. For
inherently tied to the achievement of wellbeing goals.                 WELLBEING   example, the obligation of progressive realisation
It would be detrimental to see the disciplines as                                  (continuous improvement) for socio-economic rights
competing when in fact they can be mutually                                        resonates with the notion of flourishing so integral to
reinforcing (see, also, discussion on page 60). Human                              wellbeing agendas. Even further, minimum
rights form the legal basis (a framework and                                       obligations for socio-economic rights (minimum
accountability mechanisms) from which states are                                   standards beneath which no child should be allowed
obligated to ensure children’s wellbeing. They are                                 to fall), resonates with notions of dignity and
internationally agreed legal obligations, voluntarily                              fundamental needs that are core to a wellbeing
signed up to by governments (ratified), and provide a                              approach.
basis from which Scotland must respect, protect and
                                                                                   The fundamentals of a wellbeing budget set out
fulfil a broad range of children’s rights. They also
                                                                                   below overlap with and reinforce the PANEL
serve to ensure children have the opportunity to meet
                                                                                   principles (Participation / Accountability / Non-
their full potential. Children’s rights (both civil and
                                                                                   discrimination / Empowerment / Legality) of human
political as well as socio-economic) can be and are
                                                                                   rights budgeting called for by the SHRC.14 While
undermined by a lack of resources. So much so,
                                                                                   rights provide the legal basis to realise children’s
growing up in poverty has been described as the
                                                                                   wellbeing, wellbeing itself aids understanding as to
‘single biggest human rights issue facing children in
                                                                                   whether a child’s human rights have been realised or
Scotland’.13 With a dedicated international treaty on
                                                                                   not.15 A wellbeing budget is a way to direct resources
children’s human rights, the UN Convention on the
                                                                                   to address breach of a child’s rights and therefore an
Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children’s rights are
                                                                                   important element of delivering on the UNCRC.16
unique to them. They are specific, justiciable (in other
                                                                                   A wellbeing budget thus must encompass both
words, can be decided in the courts), and while
connected, do not revolve solely around the rights of
their parents.

  A Lexicon for Research on International Children’s Rights in                     Progressive-Realization-booklet.pdf.
Troubled Times -editorial in Intl Journal of Children’s rights Laura
                                                                                     See, for example, General Comment 19 of the Committee for
Lundy 27 (2019) 595-601.
                                                                        RIGHTS     Children’s Rights which examines meeting rights through
13                         budgetary commitments (
independent-cria.pdf                                                               interpreting-the-uncrc/).


Children are experiencing massive changes in
daily routines and education, many in families
 that are experiencing losses of work, income
  and loved ones, and fear and anxiety about
[COVID-19] infection and life beyond the crisis
                 - Kate Pickett 17

Children in Scotland today
Even prior to COVID-19, Scotland was falling short on children’s wellbeing. Child   

poverty rates over the past five years vastly exceed the targets outlined in the Child   19
                                                                                           ‘Child poverty by whether there are under 5 year olds or under 6 year olds in the household’,
Poverty (Scotland) Act. A quarter of Scotland’s children are in relative poverty18 and   available at
households with children under six years of age account for almost two-thirds of         20
children experiencing relative poverty.19
                                                                                           Cited in
The intersection of gender with class, race and disability generates cumulative
inequalities.20 There are patterns to these inequalities that make some children and     22
families with certain characteristics more likely to experience poverty. Child           eIEtEUEgK3GLudW1meE2DILbJPZYPiP0dO3Qwx6YVxBFxOhI1KEp5swpok80/pub

poverty overlaps strongly with the age, sex, ethnicity and disability characteristics    23
of the wider household.21 People who experience racism22 are more likely to
experience poverty. Such inequalities and dynamics of marginalisation invariably 
                                                                                         review/pages/11/ and
overlap and exacerbate each other. As explained by the National Advisory Council
on Women and Girls: ‘Different structures of oppression create both privilege and        25
                                                                                           ScotPHO Online Profiles Tool (
penalty: they compound one another so that women who identify as belonging to            profiles-tool/), cited in
more than one marginalised group will experience discrimination in ways that are
inextricable and intensified’.23

The circumstances in which children live also matter: for example, whether they
live in rental households. Having a low household income and living in areas of
deprivation are associated with lower levels of other wellbeing dimensions, such as
mental health or obesity. Those living in the areas of highest deprivation also
scored significantly lower on wellbeing in several surveys, and children living in
low-income households are three times more likely to suffer from mental health
problems than children from more affluent backgrounds.24 Children and young
people who live in areas of greater deprivation are more at risk of being exposed to
harmful external factors (such as community violence, crime, lower levels of
perceived safety, substandard neighbourhood maintenance, higher incidence of
traffic accidents and limited green space).25

The wider macroeconomy is also at play, not least in the way it impacts parents        on infant mental health are predicted to have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and
and carers: the incidence of in-work poverty is growing,26 as is the number in         lockdown, with a survey of 5,474 parents across the UK suggesting a quarter of
precarious work such as employment on zero-hour contracts (in 2019, 70,000             parents had concerns about their relationship with their baby during the first
people in Scotland were on zero-hour contracts, up to 2.6 per cent of those in         lockdown in March.39 The socio-economic gradient of mental health problems during
employment from 2.4 per cent the previous year27). Women – many of whom will be        lockdown (and before it) is not unexpected, given the straitened circumstances in
mothers – are more likely to be disadvantaged in Scotland’s labour market. The         which people on low incomes often live. Our responses also need to address these
majority of Scotland’s part-time workforce are women, and women are more likely        circumstances, not just treat the individual’s response to them.
to be in low-paid work (almost two-thirds of people paid below the living wage are
women).28 The cost of childcare for families can be up to £276 per month, an
increase of almost a third from 2016 to 2019.29 Inadequate public transport
hampers women’s capacity to access employment and education.30
                                                                                           26                                              33
Hidden beneath these statistics are the experiences of children themselves. The            2607/child-poverty-scales-and-trends.pdf        health-strategy-2017-2027/
number of children in Scotland reporting good relationships with their parents and
                                                                                           27                                              34
carers is lower than international averages.31 Although the youngest age the NPF                                                           health-strategy-2017-2027/
focuses on is four, it has been repeatedly shown that perinatal and infant mental          scottish-budget-2020-21/pages/10/
health set the foundations for child and adult mental health.32 Little data has been       28
recorded on infant mental health in Scotland, but it has generally been estimated          equality-fairer-scotland-budget-statement-      002_NACWG.pdf
that up to one in five mothers are affected by mental illness in pregnancy and             scottish-budget-2020-21/pages/16/
during their first postnatal year, but only 50% are diagnosed.33 This is not only                                                          36
                                                                                               uploads/2020/07/independent-cria.pdf. See
detrimental to mothers, but is also likely to negatively affect children’s mental          Latest_news/2019/                               also
health in the earliest stages of development, during pregnancy and postnatally.34          Childcare_costs_in_Scotland_rise_by_a_quar      child-well-being/OECD-WISE-Webinar-
                                                                                           ter.aspx. See also     Children-Post-Covid19-Decade-Oct2020.pdf
                                                                                           content/publications/SWBG-Pre-Budget-           for discussion about the impact across the
COVID-19 is, of course, exacerbating these existing inequalities, and doing so             Parliamentary-Briefing-.pdf                     OECD.
along lines related to socio-economic status, race, disability, gender and so on:
obstacles already in the way have become more obstructive. As the National                 30
Advisory Council on Women and Girls reported in relation to gender: there ‘is no           equality-fairer-scotland-budget-statement-      sites/default/files/documents/
                                                                                           scottish-budget-2020-21/pages/16/               NPF_Impact_of_COVID-
doubt that the evidence of how gendered inequality is created and sustained                                                                19_December_2020.pdf
through the systems created and supported by our gender architecture has been              31
highlighted further through the pandemic’.35 With the onset of the coronavirus                                                                Cited in https://
pandemic, more of Scotland’s children have been pushed into poverty and food               evidence-review/pages/11/
insecurity.36 The impact of closing schools and childcare centres on the personal          32
and social development of children will be profound, including over the long term          resources/resource-library-a-z/infant-mental-   39
for the youngest children.37 Survey evidence has found problems with sleep,                health/
boredom, mood and mental health for children as young as two.38 Negative effects                                                           babies_in_lockdown_executive_summary_final_

Legislative context
Many policies and laws have an impact on children’s wellbeing and rights. They
range from those that direct and fund service provision and those which directly
intervene in the circumstances and lives of individual children, to those which
shape the wider context in which children and those caring for them exist. What
this section seeks to do is offer a small window onto the wider array of Scottish
legislation and strategies that impact children’s wellbeing across different
dimensions. Needless to say, only a subset is presented here.

Categorising this diverse terrain of initiatives into clusters is difficult given that
different policies have overlapping emphases. There is no need for a definitive
categorisation here, and the following headings certainly do not constitute a
sophisticated typology. It was also beyond the scope of this project to critique or
evaluate them individually; more thorough analysis of the individual categories has
already been undertaken in other studies, or will be in future studies.

In terms of spending, what matters is both money spent on children experiencing
poverty and investment in reducing the incidence of poverty in the first place. The
Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Fraser of Allander Institute have assessed the
Scottish budget in previous years and allocated costs to each of the policies that
either directly or indirectly target child poverty. They found that around £172
million (0.4%) of the budget was directly targeted at low-income households.40
In addition, £1.9 billion (5%) was not directly targeted, but was seen as having
potential to tackle poverty, such as spending on affordable homes and childcare.41

Substantial amounts of money have thus been allocated to strategies and pieces of
legislation such as those highlighted below. Yet much of the effective demand for
these is driven by the failure of the wider system to help sufficiently nurture
children’s wellbeing. Not enough effort is being concentrated in the bold, upstream      40
space; instead, existing efforts seem limited to helping people cope with the status     government-assess-the-impact-of-its-budget-on-tackling-child-poverty/, cited in https://
quo (necessary though that is). The response is often individualised treatments          Commissions-response-to-the-Scottish-Budget.pdf
that represent reactions to need generated by poverty, inequality, lack of quality
work and so on.                                                                  

The National Performance Framework
Scotland has had a wellbeing outcomes framework since 2007 in the form of the National             The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 reinforces the
Performance Framework (NPF), to which all parties agreed. It is arguably one of the most           focus on NPF outcomes in that it places a duty on ministers and
important government documents (given there is no written constitution). Convention of             public bodies to ‘have regard to’ NPF outcomes in the delivery of
Scottish Local Authoroties (COSLA) and all public bodies have fully accepted the goals of the      their work.43 A report is presented to parliament each year setting
NPF. It was last revised in 2018 (this revision was influenced by the Children’s Parliament) and   out the outcomes and highlighting where further progress is
the new iteration encompasses 11 strategic outcomes underpinned by 81 indicators, focusing on      necessary. Ministers have a duty to review the outcomes at least
continuous improvement rather than time-limited targets. It identifies the overriding purpose of   every five years.44 This would require an updated set of National
‘creating a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through     Outcomes by 2023, but given the intention was to match
increased wellbeing, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth’. There is also a suite of      parliamentary sessions there is a strong argument to bring this
values that sit alongside this purpose:                                                            forward to 2021.

• We are a society which treats all our people with kindness, dignity and compassion, respects
  the rule of law, and acts in an open and transparent way

• We have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy

• We are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally

• We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally

• We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe

• We grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential

• We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society

• We have thriving and innovative businesses, with quality jobs and fair work for everyone

• We are healthy and active

• We value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment                                                  43

• We are creative and our vibrant and diverse cultures are expressed and enjoyed widely         
• We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination.42                      mContentType=book

Supporting incomes
Social security and direct support are a key area in which the Scottish
Government’s actions impact the wellbeing and rights of children. The 2020–21                   
budget forecast that social security assistance would equate to over £3.39 billion in
total.45 Some of the funds, grants and initiatives relevant to children include:                        46

• Healthier, Wealthier Children, which provides income maximisation advice, often via referrals         47
  from antenatal and early years services.46
• The Benefit Take-Up Strategy, created in October 2019 to increase awareness of Scottish benefit
  entitlements, and to understand what prevents take-up.47                                              49

• Child Winter Heating Assistance, which provides families with a disabled child with a lump sum of
  £200 towards heating.48

• The School Clothing Grant, awarded to eligible low-income families for children’s school clothes
  and shoes.                                                                                       

• Young Carer Grant, an annual payment of £305.10 to 16, 17 or 18-year-olds who have spent an   
  average of 16 hours per week, for at least the past three months, caring for one or more people. 49
• The Scottish Welfare Fund, in which payments made by local authorities act as a safety net.50 Prior   second-year-progress-report-2019-20/pages/4/
  to the COVID-19 pandemic, two types of grant were available from the fund: crisis grants and
  community care grants (the latter intended for those needing support to establish or maintain a
  settled home in the community). Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a third grant
  (self-isolation support) has also been added, which provides support for loss of income when self-

• In 2018, the Affordable Credit Loan Fund (administered by the Carnegie UK Trust) was doubled to
  £2 million to give low-income families greater access to affordable credit.52 A year later a new
  fund, the Credit Unions Investment Fund, was added to improve credit union systems and
  increase access to affordable credit.53 These two funds sit alongside the Credit Union Resilience
  Fund of £2 million, with an additional £500,000 committed to this fund in 2021.54

Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 and Child
Poverty Delivery Plan
One of the major initiatives with scope to influence children’s wellbeing is the Child Poverty           55
(Scotland) Act 2017, which has set targets to reduce child poverty rates by 2030.55 It is supported by
the Child Poverty Delivery Plan, ‘Every Child, Every Chance’, which sets out the actions needed to       56
achieve the targets.56 The government now has a statutory obligation to ensure that by 2030:             delivery-plan-2018-22/

                                                                                                            These targets are to be met by the financial year starting April 2030. The
• Less than 10% of children in Scotland will live in households experiencing relative poverty.           figures are after housing costs.

• Less than 5% will be in households experiencing absolute poverty.                                      58

• Less than 5% of children will be in households experiencing both low income and material               59
  deprivation.                                                                                           and-Inequality-Commission-scrutiny-of-the-Tackling-Child-Poverty-

• Less than 5% of children living in households that are in persistent poverty.57                        60

The focus is on the six groups most vulnerable to child poverty: lone parents; minority ethnic           61
parents; families with a disabled adult or child; families with young mothers (under 25); families       delivery-plan-2018-22/
with children under one; and large families.58 The act had unanimous support in parliament and
                                                                                                  (and see
mandates annual progress reports. The progress reports need to describe measures taken and their
                                                                                                         also the recent evaluation:
effect in terms of meeting the child poverty targets.59 It also requires local authorities and health    evaluation-best-start-grant/) The eligibility criteria have the potential to
boards to jointly publish their own annual local child poverty action reports.60                         benefit 90% of lone-parent households and 50% of families with three or
                                                                                                         more young children. It is also accessible to asylum seekers, who can apply
                                                                                                         for the Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Payment with no effect on their
Actions committed to include: 61                                                                         asylum application status. (
• Work and earnings: intensive support employment for parents.
                                                                                                           This initiative, based at the University of Glasgow, works in areas of high
                                                                                                         disadvantage to help empower and raise the voices of children and young
• Costs of living: funds to tackle children’s food insecurity during school holidays, offer financial    people:
  health checks and enable access to affordable loans.                                                   2020/05/CNS-Capabilities-presentation-270520-SW-Final.pdf

• The Best Start Grant for financially vulnerable parents to cover the costs of childcare and early

• Investment in Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland63 and community education for Gypsy, Roma
  and Traveller families.

• The Innovation Fund, in partnership with the Hunter Foundation, which                      Scottish Child Payment (2020)
  promotes new approaches to preventing and reducing child poverty.                          This is a top-up benefit issued by the Scottish Government to low-income families
                                                                                             with children under the age of six (with a rollout to children under 16 expected in
• Establishment of the Poverty and Inequality Commission,64 whose role is ‘to
                                                                                             2022).68 It entitles eligible families to an extra £10 per week for each child in the
  provide independent advice to Scottish Ministers on reducing poverty and
                                                                                             family, with payments made every four weeks. Due to the increased demand
  inequality in Scotland and to scrutinise the progress that is being made’.65
                                                                                             caused by COVID-19, the Scottish Government opened applications early, from 9
                                                                                             November 2020.69 Before COVID-19, the Scottish Government estimated the
Since then, additional actions have been introduced, including:66
                                                                                             payment had the potential to lift 30,000 children out of poverty,70 a three
• The introduction of the Scottish Child Payment (see below).                                percentage point reduction in relative poverty.71

• Healthy Start vouchers were replaced by Best Start Foods.                                  The Scotland Act 2016 and Social Security
                                                                                             (Scotland) Act 2018
• The expansion of early learning and childcare funded hours from 600 to 1,140.              The Scotland Act 2016 devolved several social security powers to the Scottish
                                                                                             Government, including autonomy over some benefits for disabilities and carers and
A review by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests that the Scottish                        some payments for low-income households. Power has been transferred to
Government was not on track to meet the child poverty targets for 2030, even                 Scotland for the social security process, including its ability to top up UK benefits
prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.67                                                            and create new benefits.72 The Scotland Act 2016 was then followed by the Social
                                                                                             Security (Scotland) Act 2018, and Social Security Scotland was set up to manage the
                                                                                             11 social security benefits devolved to Scotland.

64                                                                                           68

progress-report-2019-20/                                                                     71

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